20 January 2014


In September, I visited my sister.  We had some time on our hands, so we started searching for a pattern for a new quilt for her bed.  Her current quilt is 13 years old and tears when you look at it wrong.  We started searching pinterest, flickr, and favorite quilt blogs.

She found one: Groove.  We stumbled upon a quilt-a-long and traced it back to a quilt by 'Elven Garden'.  It was love at first sight.  We loved the pattern, loved the colors, and it was approved by the husband.  Yea!   Colors: Kona cotton in azure, willow, white, chartreuse and black.

Looking at the quilt pattern and comments on the quilt-a-long, we realized two things.  1. The quilt pattern comes in sizes from crib up to king - with each size smaller than a king just containing a portion of the design. 2. This quilt was intended to be made out of 3.5" squares. 

Uh.  No.  There had to be a better way than to piece a king size quilt out of 3.5" squares.   117" x 99" equals 1,287 squares.  Ugh.  Looking further several were making it in pieces like a 'log cabin'.  That would work.  But what about strips?  Strips should work.  And the curved piece is a 3" finished drunkard's path block. 

We started drawing it up in Google Sketch-up.  Once we had it drawn, we broke it up into rows and started breaking out each color piece.  When we got to the end of that, we had the realization that breaking it up into columns would probably have less pieces and 'larger' chunks.    Oops.  It was re-done.  Columns was definitely better.

Many of the fabric strips were longer than 44" and we really didn't want to piece fabric.  Our bright idea - cut the fabric along the length (not width) so our strips could be as long as we wanted.  My sister spent several nights grouping the individual pieces to determine how much fabric to order.

At Christmas, we were together - with the fabric - and started cutting.    After the kids were in bed we picked a color of fabric, laid it out on the kitchen floor, and armed with rotary cutters, a mat, a tape measure, and a few rulers, we started cutting fabric - double checking each others math. :)    I was the designated cutter ... something about being abnormally picky about how fabric is cut.  It might have to do with my "if I don't cut it, I don't sew it" policy.  My sister double checked all measurements and pinned labels on every piece of fabric. Color coded for front vs back.  I think it took 3 or 4 nights to cut out all of the colors and another night to cut the curves. 

For the curves - a drunken path block, I drew up a template in MS publisher.  [It seems to have a better resolution that Sketchup.]   After using some laser cut templates for another project, I knew I really wanted a set for this quilt.  But my favorite Etsy shop to create these shut down.   Bummer.   Dad totally came through for us and cut it out of a piece of 1/4" Plexiglas.  Yea Dad!   They worked great using a 28mm rotary cutter.  To sew, I followed a no-pins tutorial by: 'She Can Quilt'.  (I don't think I will every pin another curve again.  As long as I remembered to hold the top fabric up, it just worked.)

7 columns were stitched together one night ... and we took a bunch pf seams out.  We definitely should not sew late on a Saturday night. 

It took one night of pinning all of the rest of the columns together.  [We watched Mary Poppins with the kids and I pinned strips together.]  One day of sewing columns.  One long day of sewing all of the columns together.   I think it turned out pretty fantastic.

It's upside down, but my sister and I are the only two that will know that.
 I'm not sure if you can tell, but the points match amazingly.  I pressed the 'odd' column strip seams up and the 'even' column strip seams down.  The seams nested together and with careful pinning the seams look great.  Occasionally we had to try again on the curved blocks. :)

My sister also designed the back.  It took us a little less than a day to piece this.  [Uh, we goofed on the amount of chartreuse fabric needed, so we had to run to the fabric store to get some more.]

[Ugh.  And we forgot to make the back 2 inches bigger all around than the front when drawing it up in sketch-up.  So the 'groove' is 2" shorter than the rest.  My sister is going to piece in extra fabric later.]

I think the quilt is gorgeous ... and I can't wait to see how my sister quilts it.

pattern: Groove by Carolina Patchworks - with some modifications by us.
fabric: Kona cotton in: azure, willow, white, chartreuse and black
size: 117" x 99"
time: less than 2 weeks with two of us working on it over Christmas break.

13 January 2014

quilt for my sister

While working on the quilts for my nieces and nephew, I decided my sister needed a quilt.  Yes, she could make one herself, but where is the fun of that?

I let her pick out her own fabric and she choose azure minky from fabric.com.  It's a really pretty blue/deep turquoise color.   It's more blue-y than their snapshot, but it gives an idea of the fabric color.

But what to do for the front?  I spent some time on fabric.com looking for some prints to go with it.  I didn't find anything I liked.  My sister found a few, but I still didn't like them.  Azure blue is just hard to match.  I figured I needed to start somewhere, so I picked a solid - Kona cotton alegria blue - on-line.  I figured if nothing else, it would work for the binding.  It ended up being lighter than the back, but in the same color family, so it would work.  [Occasionally I'm lucky with guessing colors off of the monitor.]

I liked a stack of fabric that I found on from the blue chair - gray, aqua, lime, and red.   I headed to my local fabric store to try to mimic it.  Epic fail.  I couldn't find anything I liked.  Did I mention that it was the first week of December and I really wanted it done by Christmas?  My next thought was a rainbow.  But I didn't like that once I laid out the fabric.  So I tried for just a few colors.  An orange, a lime green, a blue, and gray.  Then I added in either a lighter or darker shade.  But was was bored with squares - so I decided on equilateral triangles.  A few quick tutorials from pinterest, and I thought I could do it.

The color choices: alegria blue, pacific, orange, tangerine, chartreuse, lime, iron, and coal.  All Kona cotton.

I cut out 5.75 strips of fabric and cut out equilateral triangles using the 60 degree line on my ruler.  I laid them out one night and tried to make it as random as I could.  I think it turned out pretty cool.

It came together really smoothy.  I just focused on keeping the seam allowances accurate, pinned the points on the strips, and it just worked.  Most of the points turned really nice.  They're not all perfect - but it's pretty good.  It took about a week to get it pieced and a little less to quilt it.  At that point, I wasn't feeling too great, so I sewed the binding on and put it in my suitcase.  [Binding and letters in pacific blue, background of letters in iron.]  I figured I could hand sew the binding down when I got home.  [It's just as easy to sit and watch Netflix at Mom and Dad's.] :)

It's not very 'girly' looking, but I like it.  Hopefully my sister does too.

Now to make one for me!

size: 60" wide by 75" tall
fabric: azure minky from fabric.com.  Kona cotton: alegria blue, pacific, orange, tangerine, chartreuse, lime, iron, and coal.
straight line quilting 1/4" away from all seam lines on my Janome by me.

06 January 2014

Christmas quilts

I'm a blanket person. I like to have them around and I love to sleep with them. Even when I travel I find a way to stuff a blanket into my suitcase or backpack. My sister is the same way. It's no surprise that her kids are the same way. They love to drag their quilts around in the morning and find a spot over an air vent to curl up in.  But only two of them had a snuggly blanket/quilt like that - and they were getting a little old due to being loved. :)

Early in the year (May?) she mentioned making quilts for all 4 kids for Christmas.  I had her family for Christmas this year, so perfect gifts.  Easy-peasy.   4 quilts by December is easily do-able - right?  If I kept the pattern simple and the quilting straight lines, it was possible.  I pictured minky on the back (soft and snuggly) with squares on the front of Kona Cotton.  I wanted them big enough they'd last for a long time, so 60" wide fabric by 2 yards should be perfect.  5" finished squares so the math would be easy.  Fabric.com advertises that they cut 37" yards ... so if they cut generously, I thought I could make them 60" x 75".  To add to the fun, I'd put their names into the quilt tops using the paper pieced alphabet from 'from blank pages ...'.  (Must be able to prove quilt ownership!)  We perused fabric.com for minky fabric for the quilt backs and let the older two kids 'pick' their fabric from a pre-selected few.  Fabric for two quilts was ordered in July and I spent most of August looking for fabrics to coordinate with them.  Fabric for the next 2 was ordered on 9 September with a few more pieces on 22 October.  You'd think I'd get started on the quilts right away ... but I procrastinated until September. :) 

First up, C.  He's 7.   Do you know how hard it is to find fabric for a 7 year old boy that he doesn't consider 'baby-ish'?  We found camouflage minky and I immediately knew what this quilt needed to be.  Gray camo on one side, squares of different gray fabric on the other with binding in his favorite color, orange.     

The fabrics on the front are Kona Cotton: pepper (looks black), charcoal, steel, slate (the blue color), medium gray, iron, coal, and ash.  All cut in 5.5" squares.  Kona cotton orange for the letters and binding.  The background for the letters is iron.  It's 60" wide by 75" tall.  The perfect size for snuggling under and it should grow with him.  I think this is the first quilt I did a random placement of fabric on.  Random and being an engineer does not mix for me, but I some how managed it on this quilt. 

I think I had the top pieced by the beginning of October.

Next up, A.  She's 9.  It took some time to find the right fabric for her.  Not baby-ish, cool looking, lots of colors, and something that a teenager would find okay in the future.  We found a paisley print that she liked.  When it came, I was a little worried about the white background.  The picture on the computer screen did not look like it had white on it.  It's a cute fabric ... and she is older, so hopefully it will be okay.  But I made sure the quilts for the younger kids did not have white on them.

I originally tried a random layout, but these colors - which really do match the back - were just too bright and it didn't look right.  Then I tried diagonal stripes.  Too boring for A.  I tried lots of things while they were spread out on my 'design wall' on the floor and finally fell across the diagonal lines with alternating colors.  It was my favorite.  Plus I wanted her name to be in colors, so it worked out well.

The colors are Kona Cotton: turquoise, peacock, pomegranite, camilla, lime, iron, purple, and amythest.  Size: 60" wide x 75" tall.  Bound in purple.  I finished piecing the top the 2nd week in October and then quilted and bound both A and C's quilts over the next few weeks. The quilting is simple straight line machine quilting 1/4" away from each seam.

Next, K.  She's 4.  She likes the color purple.  We searched and searched and finally came up with a really cool minky print with purple on a silver background. I tried to pull in all of the colors from the back for the front - but it just didn't work.  Once I decided to just focus on purple, this quilt came together fast.

I ordered most of the colors on-line, using my out-of-date Kona Cotton color card and hoping the colors on the computer screen would work.  They ended up perfect.  The colors are: regal, purple, tulip, mulberry, crocus, wisteria, pansy, and thistle.  The letters and binding are tulip with the name background thistle.

Size: 60" wide by 75" tall.  I had the top pieced by Thanksgiving and got it quilted over the holiday.

Next, G's quilt.  She's 9 months, so she really doesn't care about fabric, but I think my sister chose a cute print for her.  Again, I tried to pull in colors from the back and got a response 'she's a little girl, make it pink'.  Do you know how hard it is to find colors that actually are pink?  I ordered some fabric on-line and it was a total fail.  Colors that looked pink suddenly turned coral when placed next to others - or they looked red.    Others looked very different on the computer screen and then looked identical when they arrived.  I went to every fabric store in town searching for just the right shades of pink with just okay results.  I finally realized I was just going to have to make do with the fabric I had and cut it out.

I didn't like 2 of the colors at all, but I was running out of time.  In my scraps I had some Kona Cotton that was labeled 'bright pink'.  I thought that would work perfectly in the quilt.  I had bought it at JoAnn's previously, so I thought it would be easy to find.   No such luck at either store in town.  The next day I started google-ing to try and find more stores within a 50 mile radius that carried Kona Cotton to try and find some new colors.  I was out of time to order on-line if I wanted it done by Christmas.  I couldn't believe what popped up.  Hobby Lobby.  And their web site said they carried 'bright pink'.  I went there immediately after work and found 'bright pink' along with another color.  Yea!  (And yes, Hobby Lobby has a huge sign on the wall that says 'Kona Cotton' ... but I never remembered seeing it.)

The final colors are a mixture of Kona Cotton and Bella Solids.  berry, berrylicious (Bella), bright pink, azalea, peony (Bella), carnation, medium pink, and petal.  Her name and binding is in bright pink with the name background in petal.

I love how it turned out.  Perfectly pink for a little girl.  It's also 60" wide by 75" tall.  She'll grow into it.  This quilt was done the fastest - in just a little over a week in December.

The quilts were washed with 'Shout color catchers' individually and they crinkled up ever so nicely.  I boxed them up and sent home via UPS while I watched the tracking the entire time.  4 quilts in a box weighted 17.8 lbs.  Yup, they weigh a bit over 4lbs each.

Then I had to wait to see the reactions on Christmas.  I think they like their quilts.  The 3 older kids slept with their blankets each night and during the day they were used as forts.  K informed me several times that her quilt was going home with her because it had her name on it.   Complete and total win. :)  All the work it took to make them was totally worth it.

fabric - minky fabric from fabric.com.  Kona cotton and Bella solids for the fronts.  5" finished squares.
size - 60" wide x 75" tall.  (Thanks fabric.com for giving me a smidge extra on 2 yards of fabric).
straight line quilting by me on my Janome